Sunday, December 03, 2023

Pope Francis’s eviction of Cardinal Burke a ‘denial of free speech’: Vatican source

Francis would be clearly aware that the men he has penalized are much more loyal to the deposit of faith (received Catholic doctrine) than he is, so this smacks of personal pique on the part  of Francis.  There is no obvious theological grounding for the demotions

Pope Francis’ move to evict US Cardinal Burke, 75, one of the Church’s top canon lawyers, from his Roman flat and stop his salary was a tyrannical denial of free speech, a Cardinal close to Burke has told The Australian.

The move is working against Francis, whose closest associates in the College of Cardinals and in the Vatican bureaucracy are distancing themselves from him ahead of any upcoming Synod. The Pope turns 87 later this month and has been in poor health.

Cardinal Burke was especially shocked, his friend said, that Francis chose to confirm the move through his biographer and friend, English journalist Austen Ivereigh, who visited the Pope last Monday. The interview has been the Pope’s only public announcement of his unprecedented measures against Cardinal Burke. The Pope has not spoken to the Cardinal directly.

Writing on a religious website, Where Peter is, on Thursday, Ivereigh said: “In the course of our conversation, Francis told me he had decided to remove Cardinal Burke’s cardinal privileges — his apartment and salary — because he had been using those privileges against the Church.’’

The statement published by Ivereigh contradicts Francis’ claims that he wants those who disagree with him to speak freely, according to the Cardinal’s circle.

“That claim about working against the church is a calumny, and now that Ivereigh has spread it the Pope or his spokesman need to justify it,’’ Cardinal Burke’s friend told The Australian.

The Church’s Code of Canon Law encourages free speech, even criticisms of Church authorities. Canon 212 says that “according to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess’’ Christians “have the right and even at times the duty’’ to make known their opinion on “matters which pertain to the good of the Church’’.

Cardinal Burke is the second US prelate to fall foul of Francis in a month. Three weeks ago, the Pope sacked one of his most prominent critics in the US, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas. Bishop Strickland, a conservative, was popular and respected in his diocese, where his seminary attracted more priestly vocations than most larger dioceses. As with Cardinal Burke, no explanation was given for Bishop Tyler’s removal.

In June, Francis forced the late Pope Benedict’s long-time secretary Archbishop George Ganswein back to Germany, without a position, despite the he had also run Francis’s household for 10 years, In contrast, the controversial priest-artist Fr Marko Rupnik, who was expelled by the Jesuits earlier this year over allegations of sexually abusing nuns and sacrilegious conduct and temporarily excommunicated in 2020 has been given a new start working in his native Slovenia, despite Francis’s “zero tolerance’’ of sexual abuse.

While the moves highlight increasing tensions between the church’s liberal and traditional wings, and Francis’s well-known hostility to “Anglos’’, his treatment of Cardinal Burke has drawn unexpected reactions across factional lines.

Opus Dei (regarded as one of the Church’s most conservative groups) Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, writing in the Jesuit-run America magazine, backed the Pope, arguing that any failure to act in communion with the Church and the Pope can be cause for dismissal.

On the other hand, Chris Altieri, the editor of the middle-of-the-road Vatican website Crux said stripping Cardinal Burke of his Roman digs and cutting off his stipend were “tough to justify as necessary, especially as punishment for promotion of ‘disunity’ in the Church. “This move against Burke is a tough sell, at least from a PR point view, while it is nigh on impossible to see the practical upside,’’ Altieri wrote.

Liberals who disagree with Cardinal Burke’s orthodoxy and respect for tradition admire his authenticity and consistent adherence to Church teaching.

Cardinal Burke, who was appointed to the Church’s most senior legal office by Pope Benedict in 2008, has been measured in his criticisms of Francis’s radical agenda.

Unlike Cardinal George Pell, for example, who, a week before he died in January this year, branded last month’s “Synod on Synodality’’ a “toxic nightmare’’, Cardinal Burke took a quieter approach. He was one of five Cardinals who issued Francis with a “Dubia” – a series of questions – before the event.

These covered whether the blessing of same-sex unions and women’s ordination were consistent with church doctrine. The synod agenda, Cardinal Burke told a gathering of 200 people in Rome held at the same time as the Synod, “appeared to be more political and human than ecclesial and divine’’.

Cardinal Burke has also been one of the few in the College to call out the Vatican’s secret deal with China, at a time when the Communist state is increasing religious persecutions and flexing its military and financial might, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

In an interview with this newspaper when he visited Australia in 2018 Cardinal Burke said the agreement, which gives Chinese Communist Party officials a major say in choosing bishops, was “absolutely unconscionable’’ and “a betrayal of so many confessors and martyrs who suffered for years and years and were put to death” by the Communist Party.

Cardinal Burke has been urged by friends to consider moving into Domus Australia in Rome, even temporarily, until he finds a new home. The Australia guesthouse has large, comfortable rooms at reasonable prices and a striking chapel.

Cardinal Burke is currently in the US, but he intends to remain based in Rome.




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